1995 Winter CES Commentary by:
Marty Chinn (vidsourc@netcom.com)

WCES Report Day 1

Greetings from Las Vegas. Welcome to Day 1 of the Winter Consumer Electronics Show. I'd like to thank all those who joined in on the WCES conference. Also for those of you who want to catch a glimpse of what is going on, I'll be making a CES video for 12 plus shipping. For information, please e-mail me. Now on to the report.

Well I know a lot of you are wondering about the Playstation, the CEO of Sony did not announce a release of Playstation this Spring. In fact the only places you could find a Playstation was at the Sega booth, Sunsoft booth, a few distributors booths, and Game Fan's booth. So it looks like we won't hear anything out of the Playstation until May '95 at E3. Saturn however has been officially announced for a Fall '95 release.

Nothing really announced or shown about the Ultra 64. There was a press release naming several companies working on the Ultra 64 though. SGI also has a new software development tool that they will be using for the U64. The demo they showed was an impressive indy car demo that they did in 7 days. If you imagine twice as good as Daytona in quality, you can imagine what the demo looked like. Not to say that is how it will be on the Ultra 64 though. Also Wave Front's Game Ware, allows you to get the same style of quality of textured mapping with less polygons than you would have to use on other application. They are using this for the Ultra 64 as well for development.

Now to step away from the next generation systems, on to the already installed systems. Lets start with 3DO. I'll be hitting the booth more tomorrow but from what I saw, it was only a mediocre showing. I did not see NHL for 3DO which was one of the titles I was hoping for. Also even though announced, Doom, Doom 2, and Primal Rage was also no where to be seen. There was no sign of Mortal Kombat 2 or NBA Jam TE either. Time 2 Die, now known as Killing Time was there though.

Looking through the press kit. The first half of '95 looks awfully slow. Games that sound like they should be hot in the first quarter, are Gex, Quarentine, Myst, Space Ace. Theme Park, Wing Commander 3, Return Fire, and PO'ed. Second quarter of '95 is Cyberclash, Killing Time, Rayman, and 11th Hour. The rest of the titles I haven't heard of.

From what I saw of my quick glance at the 3DO booth, Wing Commander 3 was very nice. The control was much smoother than Super Wing Commander and the video was decent. It will be on four discs and Origin says they expect it out by March.

Return Fire looked to be a fun two player game in which you control various tanks and helicopters trying to destroy your opponent. It wasn't anything graphically great, but the graphics were decent and it was a fun game.

PO'ed is a first person perspective game in which you have a jet pack and various weapons. You control the guy in a multiplained/axised environment.

Killing Time looked much better than Monster Manor but I didn't get a chance to sit down and play it. Acclaim denied being an official licensee and Lucas Arts said they had no current plans to produce any other titles for 3DO.

The Panasonic FZ-10 will be out by the end of this month for a retail price of $399.99. The controller is much smaller and compact.

Goldstar will be packing in FIFA and Shockwave and will also be releasing their MPEG module. The module fits inside the Goldstar unit unlike the Panasonic one which rests outside. It will be $199.99 retail at the end of this month with Total Recall packed in. The Panasonic module was there but hasn't been announced for an official release yet.

While talking to a few developers there, a couple of them ex-developers, they stated that you'll see plenty of titles in the first quarter but expect titles to start coming slower. Why? Because they are basically releasing already started projects and are kind of hesitating on starting new ones. You'll see less titles going into development than you did before. I asked several developers this after I heard it from two different ones. And they all said its pretty much true. They said that they were either now looking into the Playstation or Saturn, or both. One even said he felt the 3DO wasn't going to go much farther. Two of those people were from EA, and one used to work for 3DO until he switched jobs. I don't know if any of that is true, but it's what a few developers had told me. From the list of the titles due out the first half of '95, it does appear they could be right.

While most companies had stayed in the same area, Atari had moved to a bigger location, in the main building along with Nintendo and Sega. They also had a mediocre showing.

Fight For Life wasn't that impressive. In fact as far as polygons went it didn't look to have too many more than FX Fighter. However it was smooth and fast in execution. I didn't get a chance to play it but will check it out tomorrow.

The Jaguar CD is expected to be out in late February/early March for a retail of $149.99. They expect 5 titles to be out at the release with over 10 by the end of the year. There will be a pack in though.

The first five titles are expected to be Blue Lightning, Battlemoprh. Highlander, Demolition Man, and Creature Shock. Virtual Light Machine will be built in. Other peripherals have been announced in the press kit. Jag Link cable will allow you to link games up to a 100 feet of each other. It's expected to be released second quarter of '95 at a retail price of $29.99. The voice modem allows you to talk to your friend while playing the game, but will also allow you to pause the game and use call waiting if you get a call in the middle of the game. Its expected to be out by fall of '95 for less than $150. Virtuality Group and Atari are still working on the VR headset due out by Christmas for under $200.

Rayman was quite fun. It was awkward in controlling at first but should easily be a hit for the Jaguar. Unfortunately there will be a 32X release at the same time of the Jaguar release.

Air Cars looked to be the worse game made for the Jaguar.

Battle Sphere looked very impressive. The shading on the polygon based ships were beautiful. It moved nice and smooth and in many ways reminded me of a well done Wing Commander type game.

Hover Hunter by Hyper Image is looking great. They currently have it at 13 fps and it moves really smooth. The whole landscape is textured mapped with real time shading and when completed it will have all the realistic physics of real life. That looked to be one of the better games of the show for the Jaguar.

Varuna's Force was very early and all that was shown was FMV but the video was excellent and the actor was one of the best actors that I've seen in a game. I think Jer Horwitz said it was a doom type game but I could be wrong. Hopefully the game will turn out as good as the video.

Nintendo had a lot going in my mind. Too bad they didn't show a lot of it. I was expecting a new Ultra 64 arcade game. Nowhere to be seen, in fact you could only find Killer Instinct and not even Cruisin' USA. I was expecting No Fear Racing. Also nowhere to be seen. Williams said they are still working on it and wouldn't have a demo for the show. Now what was there?

Commanche using their new SA-1 chip. Its hard to say about the visuals. They had them on display on a big screen so it looked very pixelated. However stand back a bit and it looked pretty nice. The control was smooth and very playable. Its a fully textured mapped polygon based game running at 20 fps. You take the role of a helicopter accomplishing missions. It was pretty much done unforunately. I was hoping the graphics could be improved a bit. Its one or two players, but also has a link feature. That's right you can link two SNES systems together to play against each other. How do you ask? Plug a controller cable from both second player control ports on each of the systems. Its that simple.

Star Fox 2 had to be their big game of the show. It pretty much uses the original Star Fox graphic engine but now instead of being forced, you can move around anywhere you want. You can also transform your ship into a ground walking vehicle. There was a lot of people around this game so I didn't get hands on experience myself.

FX Fighter looked decent. Not great, but not bad. I first saw the PC version and was impressed then I realized it was PC. I moved over and saw the SNES and it looked so much worse than the PC version. However the frame rate and speed is nice. The control is also pretty good as well. It looks like they worked their way around that then worked on the polygons of the fighters. It plays very well. The lack of polygons does hurt its graphic appeal. However once you kind of get into it, you don't notice the lack of polygons as much. It won't beat VF on Saturn of course, but its pretty good with what they had to work with. Its only 40 percent done.

NBA Jam TE looked pretty much the same as the first one. I don't see any reason to get it if you have the first one.

I found out the reason why Final Fantasy Extreme has been canceled. For starters they didn't want to go down a notch in quality from Final Fantasy 3. The other reason is, to do so would mean removing people working on Chrono Trigger which they want out by the end of Summer 95 here.

The Secret of Evermore looked pretty much like Secret of Mana but the SGI rendered graphics did not show.

Soccer fans, Perfect 11 is coming out here from Konami, but I don't know how much speech has been cut out. Hopefully not much cuz that is what made the game.

Capcom had Mega Man 7 and Mega Man X2 for the SNES. No new SF2 for once =)

Virtua Boy was lets say interesting. The 3D effect is done kind of similar to the way View Master slides worked. It's a hand held unit with a head mount. The games were in 3D and were sharp and clear and also detailed but the shades of red kind of hurts it. I didn't get to play it much so I'll report it tomorrow.

X Band has been confirmed for SNES now for a retail price of $69.99.

For some reason Sega set their booth up so you had to have an appointment to get in. Bad move on Sega's part. They also had a lot less floor space than the last WCES. They said their big show was going to be E3 though.

Lets start with 32X. There were only a few titles that aren't out from what I could see. Chaotix, a Sonic type game starring Knuckles, Golf 36 Holes, Mortal Kombat 2, Night Trap, Metal Head and a couple more that I don't remember offhand. I'll talk about Metal Head and MK2 tonight.

Metal Head is a mech game using textured mapped graphics. Although its visually nice, it does lack a bit in game play. You can't look up or down for starters. You don't bob up or down when you're walking. The frame rate is low when turning. The feeling of being there like in Iron Soldier just isn't there. They really got the visuals down that blow away Iron Soldier's because of the textured mapping but the lack of game play kind of hurt it. I'll check it again tomorrow. Maybe I have to adjust from playing Iron Soldier.

Mortal Kombat 2 was disappointing. All I could say was, "that's it??" I totally missed it while looking for it and had to ask someone where it was at the Acclaim booth. Wanna know why? Cuz the character graphics are the same size and pretty much look the same as the Genesis. More colors added to it but its only noticeable side by side. Some of the sounds have been resampled while some of them still remain as the Genesis sound. The music is still the Genesis music. The large portraits are there though. Some frames of animation have been added in but not all of them. Watch when the guy is twirling around when he's waiting for a fatality to be pulled on him. Its a 32 meg game. The sprites still disappear when you do one of the fatalities that spits out bones and stuff. The Acclaim rep said the 32X hardware just isn't all that great. He said that the 32X doesn't really handle sprites too well and that is why they still disappear. Its not arcade perfect, nor is it close. It still ranks up in the 16 bit area. In fact it just draws it closer to the SNES version. However I can't wait to see MK2 on the Saturn. Yes you heard right, they are making it for the Saturn.

A lot of the Genesis and Sega CD stuff looked good though. Phantasy Star 4 according to the press kit still retails for $100. Shining Force CD was there, Eternal Champions CD was there. A couple of game gear games looked neat as well.

They had a Saturn in the back displaying Virtua Fighters. No sign of Virtua Fighters 32X. I'll talk more about Sega Genesis games and Sega CD games tomorrow.

Oh yeah NBA Jam TE for 32X not there. MK2 for Sega CD will not be coming out. Anyways more tomorrow. There is a lot of good stuff there so just wait =)

Now for just tidbits of other stuff.

Dark Forces for the PC was pure awesome. It is similar to Doom but you can look up and down, jump and duck, and it takes the star wars theme on really well with 10 weapons to choose from. Minimum requirements is any 486 with at least 8 megs of ram and a double speed CD drive.

MK2 for PC looked great. Its CD though. I'll have more info on that later.

SNK was there with a big booth showing off their Neo Geo CD. I must have played the hell out of King of Fighters 94. Unfortunately there aren't any new Neo Geo games on display. The new control pad they have is nice and works really well. I pulled off moves so easily. However the access time really hurt the system a lot. It was really slow. More info on that tomorrow.

Well I hope this gives you an idea of what's going on. Please excuse me for being so vague. It's only the first day and I tried to glance at everything so that I would have a general idea what was there. Tomorrow is when I stop to look at everything and also start filming. Its been a busy day and its almost 1 here now. This concludes Day 1 of the WCES 1995.

- Marty

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